The Gunman and Other Stories
Wendy Smith left the band before The Gunman was recorded, leaving Prefab Sprout as the two McAloon brothers. They’re produced here by seventies veteran Tony Visconti, and supported by musicians including Bowie guitarist Carlos Alomar and Dream Theater’s Jordan Ruddess. The Gunman largely collects songs that McAloon had written for other artists – Cher had previously released ‘The Gunman’, while Jimmy Nail had recorded four of these songs previously. There’s a western theme in some of the songs, like the opening ‘Cowboy Dreams’ and the traditional ‘Streets of Laredo’, other songs like ‘I’m A Troubled Man’ and ‘When You Get To Know Me Better’ follow the adult contemporary template of Andromeda Heights, while there’s also the bizarrely twee closer of ‘Farmyard Cat’. Despite the patchwork nature – McAloon was happy for The Gunman to be a clearing house of accumulated material – it’s a more satisfying listen than Andromeda Heights. Most of the material is fine, and there are a couple of standout tracks; ‘Cornfield Ablaze’ is a literate rock song (“You were the love child of two gods/I was the farmers awkward son”), while ‘Blue Roses’ is pretty and heartfelt. The Gunman and Other Stories is not vintage Prefab Sprout, but it’s well worth hearing the highlights.